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Second-hand shopping

Second-hand shopping

Shedd is looking to transform the United Arab Emirates’ second-hand fashion market

The online fashion market in the United Arab Emirates has been transformed in recent years. Where once the purchase of a new bag or item of clothing would require a trip to the mall, now there are multiple online retailers offering a variety of goods with the click of a mouse.

But in the second-hand fashion space, former marketing director at online- classifieds site Dubizzle, Alex Hutley, noticed a gap in the market.

From his own observations at the company, users were perfectly willing to travel across the city or country to buy a car, house, laptop or television. But when it came to lower value items – like clothing – proximity was key.

He and erstwhile Dubizzle general manager of emerging markets Tariq Zabian then sought out a way to make second-hand fashion shopping more accessible using mobile technology.

The concept was simple. A second- hand marketplace app for fashion items, allowing users to post listings comment and filter entries by location as easily as posting on Twitter or Instagram.

“Dubizzle is a huge brand and has been very successful in a lot of categories. But with the absence of the eBay and things you have in other markets we’ve seen this real emergence of an opportunity of something that is more social, quicker to use and a lighter experience.”

This and the growth of the fashion and lifestyle segment in the region led the two to take the next step. They approached their superiors and the company’s chief executive, before finally taking the idea to the board.

“From that point, they decided to invest in the idea both in terms of building the team and then marketing as well.”

Dubizzle decided to incubate the company, named ‘Shedd’ with a $1m investment. It was the marketplace’s first investment in its 10 years of trading.

Hutley and Zabian left their full time jobs to focus solely on their new project. The app was officially launched on iOS in the UAE in September following a six- week beta period. An Android launch is also expected to take place soon.

Shedd’s business model is based on electronic transactions. Posting a listing is free and if the buyer and seller meet in person and pay in cash the whole process is free. Should users opt to receive payment through PayPal and ship the item, Shedd charges a fee of 10 per cent of the total price.

The application is not exclusively for women but is focussing more on the female segment.

Prior to launch the co-founders conducted a survey, finding that in the average woman’s wardrobe 60 per cent of items had never been worn, or only worn once or twice.

“We’ve built a team and launched it now in the UAE. We’re pretty happy with the early results and engagement,” Hutley says.

He indicates that the two will not be seeking any further funding from other sources and the application is, for now, focussed solely on the UAE.

“You can download it anywhere in the world but it’s optimised at the moment for the UAE and we’re focussing our growth efforts on the UAE.”

But will it eventually be integrated with Dubizzle?

“At the moment, it is a completely separate brand,” says Hutley. “If you look at it on the app store it is Shedd by Dubizzle, so we’re not hiding the fact that it is [supported by the company] but there is no integration per say.”

Either way, UAE residents may soon be looking through their wardrobes thinking about what to sell rather than just what to wear.

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